June 20, 2019

Archives for April 2019

CT Shoreline Fire Departments Host Food Drive Today; Benefits Shoreline Soup Kitchens

AREAWIDE — For the eighth year in succession, Connecticut shoreline fire departments will host a one-day food drive on Saturday, April 27, to collect non-perishable food for shoreline residents in need.

The local fire stations will be open to receive donations of non-perishable food on April 27, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All donations will go to local food pantries run by the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries (SSKP). This year’s annual food drive will feature NEWS8 WTNH as a new media sponsor and also marks the 30th anniversary of the Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, which is proudly celebrating its three decades of service since it opened its doors to those in need in 1989, hopes to include all fire departments in the 11 shoreline towns they serve. Fire departments already committed to the event to receive donations at their stations include:

  • Old Saybrook Fire Department, 310 Main Street (and also OSFD food drop-offs at the Stop & Shop in Old Saybrook and the Big Y in Old Saybrook)
  • Westbrook Fire Department, 15 South Main Street
  • Essex Fire Department & Colonia Market, 11 Saybrook Road
  • Clinton Fire Department, 35 East Main Street and Stop & Shop, Clinton
  • North Madison Fire Department & Roberts Food Market, 864 Opening Hill Road
  • Chester Fire Department, 6 High Street 
  • Deep River Fire Department, 58 Union Street

Several other fire departments are expected to participate, as well. Watch for announcements on the Shoreline Soup Kitchens’ website at www.shorelinesoupkitchens.org. All area fire departments are encouraged to participate.

In addition, the Essex Savings Bank on Main Street in Old Saybrook is joining the food drive this year and is accepting food during regular business hours until noon on Saturday, April 27.

At a time of year when food donations are low, this food drive will help to restock the pantries and ensure that everyone in our local communities will have a place at the table. The Soup Kitchens’ five pantries distributed over 1 million pounds of food last year to needy residents. Only 40 percent of this food comes from the Connecticut Food Bank; the remainder must be either purchased or donated, so every item is appreciated.

Last year’s Shoreline Food Drive brought in almost 4,000 pounds of food and more than $700 in donations. This year’s Shoreline Food Drive’s goal is 6,000 pounds of non-perishable food to help those in need.

Join the effort by donating food, or by holding a food drive in your neighborhood, workplace, or club, and then bringing it to a participating shoreline firehouse. Participating fire departments ask those donating food to only drop off food on April 27. Do not drop off food before that date.

The most needed food items are: 

  • canned tuna
  • soup
  • fruits
  • juice and vegetables
  • peanut butter & jelly
  • pasta, sauce and rice
  • breakfast cereal and oatmeal

This year for your convenience, checks made payable to SSKP (with “FD Drive” in the memo field) can be dropped off, as well, on April 27.

Those items not accepted for the food drive include:

  • rusty or unlabeled cans
  • perishable items
  • homemade items
  • non-commercial packaged or canned items
  • alcoholic beverages and mixes
  • open or used items

This year’s food drive will feature local TV and radio personalities, including Gil Simmons, Chief Meteorologist for WTNH News Channel 8, and talk-show host Lee Elci, the morning personality on his popular Lee Elci Show on 94.9FM News Now-Stimulating Talk. Both Simmons and Elci will be joining firefighters and volunteers on Saturday morning collecting food items at Old Saybrook Fire Headquarters at 310 Main Street. Elci will host a live broadcast from Old Saybrook Fire Department Headquarters at 310 Main St. during this year’s annual food drive.

The Shoreline Soup Kitchens & Pantries, as well as the shoreline fire departments, extend their thanks to Stop & Shop of Old Saybrook and Big Y in Old Saybrook, along with Mirsina’s Restaurant on Main Street in Old Saybrook, for their generous donations to this year’s food drive.

In addition to WTNH News Channel 8 as the food drive’s newest media partner, other media partners include 94.9FM News Now-Stimulating Talk, Soft Rock WBMW 106.5, and Jammin’ 107.7 FM. 

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Celebrate Beavers Today with Essex Land Trust

ESSEX — The Essex Conservation Commission is celebrating Beaver Day on Saturday, April 27, with a rain date of Sunday, April 28.

The Commission will be host a tour of Quarry Pond at 7:15 p.m. (prior to sunset.)  Attendees are requested to wear boots.

Beavers are nocturnal animals that tend to sleep during the day.  The ability to see them is best at this time. 

Beavers are known as a Keystone species. A keystone species is a plant or animal that plays a unique and crucial role in the way an ecosystem functions. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. All species in an ecosystem, or habitat, rely on each other. 

Quarry Pond in located in the Viney Hill Brook Park in Essex, Conn.  Meet at the parking lot on the end of Cedar Grove Terrace prior to the start time of the tour. 

Join the tour to learn more about beavers. Sign up at EssexCelebratesBeavers@gmail.com.

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Letter From Paris: Exhibition of Macke & Marc’s Art Unintentionally Makes Powerful Statement on European Current Affairs

Nicole Prévost Logan

The exhibition titled Franz Marc / August Macke. The Adventure of the Blue Rider (der Blaue Reiter) at the Musée de l’Orangerie is the exhibit to see this spring when in Paris.  It is a festival of colors by two German artists, Macke (1887-1914) and Marc (1880-1916), who both died very young on the front during World War I more than a century ago.

Long overdue, and shamefully so – I believe all art historians would agree – Macke and Marc have never before been shown in France in an exhibit dedicated exclusively to them. The event opened first at the Neue Galerie of New York, then will remain in Paris until June 17.  The curators have made a few changes, particularly stressing the connection with the Blaue Reiter movement and the relationship with other European avant-gardes, particularly the fauvism and cubism in France.

After writing an article myself on April 11 2015 on this very site, it was pure pleasure to see the original works hanging in the spacious lower level rooms of the Orangerie Museum in the Tuileries gardens.

Franz Marc, The Dream [Der Traum], 1912, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Image taken from the Musee de l’Orangerie website.

Although they are shown together, the two artists have distinct personalities and styles. They first met in January 1910 and became close friends until the war.  Macke lived in Bonn on the Rhine in central Germany.  Marc, with the Russian artist Wassily Kandisnky and his companion Gabriel Munter and other members of the Blaue Reiter, loved Bavaria in southern Germany. He settled  first in Mirnau, about 40 miles south of Munich, then on Lake Kochel.

At a time when Europe is currently torn by political fractures, when the closeness of France and Germany is crucial to the survival of the continent, this exhibit has a strong symbolic meaning.  The European Union was founded on a determination to put an end to all wars.  What a powerful message when the art of these two young men is displayed together in an exceptional exhibition in Paris, considering, ironically, both men loved France and its culture, and yet died fighting against the country they revered.

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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CT River Museum Hosts Dinner Tonight With Guest Speaker Jeff Cooley; Benefits Curatorial Fund

Jeff Cooley will be the speaker at the Connecticut River Museum’s Brenda Milkofsky Curatorial Fund benefit event on April 18 at the Old Lyme Country Club.

AREAWIDE — Would you like to know more about the ins and outs of collecting in the contemporary art world? 

Join the board, administration and members of the Connecticut River Museum Thursday, April 18, at the Old Lyme Country Club when Jeffrey Whitman Cooley of The Cooley Gallery in Old Lyme presents “Outs & Ins: The Art in the Life of an Art Dealer.” The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. and includes dinner.

Cooley, a Hartford native trained at Harvard, apprenticed in the American Painting Department of Christie’s Auction House and graduated to the American Paintings Department at the Wadsworth Athenaeum will share his stories.

In 1981, Cooley established The Cooley Gallery in a yellow storefront on Lyme Street. There he continues to identify, gather, exhibit and interpret American paintings and painters to numerous different audiences.

He serves as an enthusiastic and committed advisor to the New Britain Museum of American Art, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury and the former Lyme Academy College of Fine Art, where he was awarded an honorary degree. Cooley is a board member at the Florence Griswold Museum and an Elector at the Wadsworth Athenaeum. He has been an influential guide to young, talented artists helping many to emerge as professionals.

Proceeds from this evening support the Brenda Milkofsky Curatorial Fund. Organized in 2009 to recognize the work of the Connecticut River Museum’s Founding Director, the fund is restricted to the acquisition and conservation of objects and manuscripts that enhance the historical focus of the Connecticut River Museum’s collections.

Purchases from this fund have included the portrait of a Middletown merchant mariner; a landscape of the oft-painted view of the Ox Bow below Mount Holyoke; the stern board of a Portland-built stone schooner; an Old Lyme hunting scene, and a model of a Blue Line tug-boat.

For more information or to make a reservation, visit this link or call the Connecticut River Museum at 860-767-8269. Tickets are $100 per person.

The Connecticut River Museum is located in Essex, Conn., and is the only museum dedicated to the study, preservation and celebration of the cultural and natural heritage of the Connecticut River and its Valley.  The Connecticut River Museum is located at 67 Main Street, Essex and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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Gov. Lamont, Local Legislators Visit Dominion to Commend Millstone Agreement to Keep Nuclear Facility Open for Another 10 Years

State Senator Norm Needleman (left) and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station.

AREAWIDE – On Monday, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-Essex), chair of the Energy & Technology Committee, joined Governor Ned Lamont, Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz and leaders from Dominion Energy to visit Waterford’s Millstone nuclear facility. While there, Sen. Needleman and others commended a March agreement between Dominion and state electric facilities to keep the nuclear energy facility open for another decade, as well as a regional cooperative agreement between Lamont and five other New England governors to evaluate further use of nuclear energy generation.

On March 15, Lamont and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes announced that Dominion Energy and Connecticut utility companies Eversource and United Illuminating would retain Millstone’s operations for at least the next ten years. Had the plant closed, the New England region could have seen up to a 25 percent increase in carbon emissions as well as the loss of 1,500 jobs, billions of dollars in power replacement costs and increased risk of rolling blackouts. Millstone’s energy output meets more than half of Connecticut’s electricity output needs.

“If we had lost Millstone, it would have done irreparable damage to the state’s power supply and the effects would have been felt not only across Connecticut but throughout New England,” said Sen. Needleman. “As a valuable, efficient and carbon free resource, Millstone’s continued operation will provide significant benefits for the health of Connecticut’s economy and environment. Due to the hard work of Governor Lamont, Lt. Governor Bysiewicz and Commissioner Dykes, among many others, I’m sure this will be just the first of many great achievements in state energy policy to come.”

“The premature loss of Millstone would have been awful for our state and region, spiking energy prices, reversing our progress on cutting carbon emissions, and endangering the reliability of the grid,” Governor Lamont said. “I want to thank the utilities for coming to the table to advance a better deal for Millstone’s power, cutting in half the incremental cost to Connecticut ratepayers of keeping the plant open for the next decade. I want to acknowledge all of the New England governors who have committed to working with us to look at ways we can value these types of facilities in the future. And I especially thank the women and men that make Millstone run safely and efficiently every day.”

“It is a great honor to work for a governor and a lieutenant governor whose leadership on climate and energy – in just the first 100 days – brings ambitious, bold policies that will have impacts for generations to come,” Department of Energy and Public Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “Connecticut has a requirement for economy-wide greenhouse gas reductions of 45 percent below 2001 levels, and this administration is taking even more urgent action, with the goal of a carbon-free grid. Securing Millstone’s power for the next decade will protect grid reliability and climate progress as we work to develop new clean energy sources like solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency.”

“On behalf of all my colleagues at Millstone Power Station, we thank Governor Lamont and the bipartisan coalition of legislators who allowed Millstone to compete successfully to provide affordable, carbon free electricity to power Connecticut for many years to come,” Thomas F. Farrell II, Chairman, President, and CEO, of Dominion Energy, said.

The contracts between Dominion and the utilities are under PURA review.

Captions for attached photos: State Senator Norm Needleman and Governor Ned Lamont tour the Millstone Power Station; Legislators and energy leaders pose after touring the Millstone Power Station.

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Legislators, Superintendents, Residents Express Universal Opposition to Forced School Regionalization

Special to ValleyNewsNow.com

Sitting in the front row of the audience at Monday night’s forum on school regionalization were local school superintendents (from right to left) Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) and Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook.)

Over 100 people turned out for an Education and Regionalization Forum at Old Saybrook Middle School on Thursday, April 11. The event was hosted by Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), with Senators Paul Formica, (R-20th), and Norm Needleman, (D-33rd).

While the two parties differ on Connecticut road tolls, all three local officials said they are against forced regionalization of school district bills proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senators Bob Duff and Cathy Osten, Deputy President Pro Tempore, and by Governor Ned Lamont.

Rep. Carney said there was an enormous public outcry by small towns and school districts, thousands of pieces of testimony received and hundreds of people, including students from Region 18 schools, who testified in March hearings.  While this probably means that the idea of aligning school districts with recently consolidated probate districts is not advancing, the matter of reducing and reallocating education costs is very much still alive, and pieces of proposed legislation could still become law.

“Nothing is truly ever dead until we gavel out at midnight on June 5,” Rep. Carney said, explaining the state legislative process and timelines of the ongoing session in Hartford. 

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses the audience Monday night while (left) State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) awaits his turn to speak. Almost hidden from view, State Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) stands to Rep. Carney’s right.

Of the six bills introduced that address regionalization of schools or services, three have been passed by the Education Committee and further action could be taken on them:

  • Governors Bill 874 establishes an appointed Commission on Shared School Services that is charged with developing shared school services recommendations, requires boards of education (BOEs) to report on currently shared school services and requires regional BOEs to post online monthly current and projected expenditures and to submit information to their town’s legislative body. The commission would issue a report in December 2020, recommendations could be binding on towns and districts. Because of costs of setting up a commission, the bill has been referred to Appropriations Committee;
  • HB 7350 requires regional education service centers (RESCs) to distribute an inventory of goods and services to member BOEs, and the Department of Education (DOE) shall develop a report of best practices by RESCs for regional cooperation. (LEARN, at 44 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, is a RESC);
  • SB 1069, proposed by Sen. Needleman, which allows the DOE to study the effects of towns working together as Local Education Agencies, is intended to encourage voluntary regional cooperation and maximize efficiencies and cost savings without being mandated to become regional school districts.

Superintendents Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook), and Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) addressed how their districts have been sharing services and resources to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of curriculum along with educational, extracurricular and sports activities and programs.  Standard practices include health and dental insurance, energy, financial software, food service and supplies, plus student transportation for specialized programs.

Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Region 4 (Chester, Deep River and Essex plus the three elementary schools for each of those towns, which are not part of Region 4) school districts already share staff, Perruccio said, in an arrangement that has the flexibility to change yearly based on each districts’ demographic needs.

Perruccio said she was alarmed that the forced regionalization bills showed a lack of regard and understanding of how school districts are already sharing resources with a focus on quality of education.

Ciccone cited how the districts are coordinating to provide professional development for their teachers, and how Westbrook’s school facilities, sports programs and fields are utilized by the Town Parks and Recreation Department and local YMCA. The schools and town share legal and financial services support, as well. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stands at the podium during Monday evening’s forum.

“There is a money issue here, we need to be frank about it,” said Neviaser, pointing out that significant redistribution of wealth from school districts with higher property values and tax base already occurs. 

Fifty-one percent of New London’s school budget is paid by the state, he said., as is over 60 percent of Norwich’s, 33 percent of Montville’s and 14 percent of East Lyme’s school budgets. Meanwhile, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools receive less than one percent of operating expenses from the state.

“There was no mention of improving educational outcomes in these regionalization proposals,” commented Tina Gilbert of Lyme. “It is because of our school district’s focus on that, we are in the top four in the country in education.  There is no discussion of parent involvement in schools; we are not wealthy or privileged people, we chose to live in this school district for our children.  What it takes to build [highly performing schools] is parent involvement, working with parents.”

When asked if they moved to their town because of the quality of the schools, a high number of people in the audience raised their hands.

While the majority of questions and comments addressed specifics of proposed legislation, the overarching issue of state fiscal problems and how to address government spending arose. Lyme and Old Lyme residents were some of the most vocal about the impact of proposed legislation on property values, taxes and the quality of local school districts.

“The majority of the state doesn’t have a problem, town government works in Connecticut, but Hartford is not responsible,” said Curt Deane of Lyme, pointing out a seven-page summary of education service-sharing produced by LEARN in February.  “The initial [regionalization] proposals would have raised my property taxes by 50 percent overnight. Taxes go up, property values go down. People have to understand, this is going to hit our property taxes and hit hard. This isn’t going to go away.” 

“We can’t be a state with only great little towns and not great cities,” Sen. Needleman said, citing imbalances of health care outcomes and school performance between wealthier communities and the state’s large cities. He continued, “While we don’t want to mess up what we have, we can’t turn our backs on the disparities.”

The legislators encouraged voters to speak up, write letters, follow grassroots organizations such as Hands Off Our Schools or form their own group to express concerns to elected officials.

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Five Days of Fun Continue at Connecticut River Museum

Come to the Connecticut River Museum during April School Vacation for a week of creativity and discovery. Join for one session or the whole week!

ESSEX — Staying in town for April Vacation?

Connecticut River Museum (CRM) has five days of cool things to do for your child or children, April 15 -19. Whether you are looking for one day or all five, there is something fun and exciting waiting for you at the Museum.

Bring your imagination and come prepared to create and experiment as we explore the River and its history. This year the Museum expanded our April Vacation day offerings to full days of fun. Workshops are designed for ages 6 – 12. 

Offerings this year are

  • Poetry and Art
  • Maritime Madness
  • Create a Museum
  • Mud and Dirt
  • Spring is in the Air

Explore the museum, go outdoors, create projects, do arts and crafts. Get more information about each day’s activities and register at www.ctrivermuseum.org.

Programs run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are $45/day, $205/week for CRM members and $50/Day, $230/week for nonmembers. Advance registration is required and space is limited.

Email sburns@ctrivermuseum.org or call 860.767.8269 x113 with questions. The Connecticut River Museum is located on the Essex waterfront at 67 Main Street.

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Alan James Holds Watercolor Workshop Tonight at Deep River Library

‘Wildflowers in the Meadow’ is a recent class demo painting by Alan James.

DEEP RIVER — Award winning watercolor artist Alan James, will hold a one-day workshop at Deep River Library, Monday, April 15, that is designed for those who want to learn the process of how to capture the essence of a scene.  The workshop will run from 5:30 to 7:45 p.m.

In this class, James will share all of the secrets of what he calls “Capturing the Essence,” which is the process of simplifying the subject by eliminating superficial details. Through step-by-step demonstrations and one-on-one guidance, he will show you how to take your initial inspiration through his process in creating an expressive painting that is strong in both composition and content.

Registration is required for this program. You may register on the website or find the link on our Facebook Events page. The class is free, but participants must provide their own art supplies. A list of materials needed are on Alan James’ website.

For more information, visit http://deepriverlibrary.accountsupport.com and click on the monthly calendar, or call the library at 860-526-6039 during service hours: Monday 1 – 8pm; Tuesday 10 am – 6 pm; Wednesday 1 – 8 pm; Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm; and Saturday 10 am – 2 pm.

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Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’ to be Performed This Afternoon by Cappella Cantorum

The conductor for Cappella Cantorum’s April concert will be Simon Holt.

DEEP RIVER — This spring brings a treat to area concert-goers: Cappella Cantorum Masterworks Chorus will perform Felix Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” Sunday, April 14, 3 p.m. at John Winthrop Middle School, 1 Winthrop Rd., Deep River.

Simon Holt of the Salt Marsh Opera will direct the chorus and professional soloists and orchestra.

Audiences will enjoy Mendelssohn’s lyricism and use of orchestral color in this Romantic oratorio that depicts the events in the life of the prophet Elijah. Chorus selections include the well-known anthems, “Lift Thine Eyes to the Mountains” and “He, Watching Over Israel.”

A reception will follow the concert.

Tickets are $30 purchased in advance, $35 at the door. They may be purchased from chorus members or on-line at www.CappellaCantorum.org.

For more information, visit the website or call 860-941-8243.

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Award-winning D.B. Rielly Performs a ‘Concert in Garden’ Tonight

D.B. Rielly

Photo courtesy of D.B. Rielly

CHESTER — Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery presents the next Concert in the Garden on Saturday, April. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m.

D.B. Rielly is an award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who, along with his band, performs a wide-ranging collection of Americana music, including Roots, Zydeco, Blues, and Alt-Country.

WMLB in Atlanta calls him “one of the best songwriters you’ve never heard of” and Country Music People magazine says he is, “rootsy, frequently very funny, witty and cynical, literate and highly enjoyable. Rielly is definitely someone to watch out for.”

Rielly himself promises his listeners an “instantaneous cure for all afflictions.”

 Check out Rielly’s videos at http://www.youtube.com/dbrielly

A $20 donation at the door is requested. Feel free to BYOB and picnic and enjoy the outdoor bistro style seating in the amphitheater (inside the gallery if inclement weather).Gates open a half hour before the show. First come, first seated, but no pets allowed.
For more information, call (860) 526-2077 or visit http://www.nilssonstudio.com. The studio is at 1 Spring St., in the heart of Chester Center.
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Rep. Carney, Local School Superintendents Host Forum Tomorrow on School Regionalization, Education

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) in conjunction with the School Superintendents from Lyme-Old Lyme (Ian Neviaser), Old Saybrook (Jan Perruccio) and Westbrook (Pat Ciccone) invite the public to attend an informational forum regarding education and school regionalization Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Old Saybrook Middle School Auditorium, 60 Sheffield St., Old Saybrook.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will provide an update on the status of state legislation affecting local public education, including forced regionalization. School regionalization has been a major topic of discussion during the 2019 legislative session, and this event will allow area residents to share their concerns, get their questions answered, and discuss potential alternatives.

For further information and any other concerns regarding state government, email State Rep. Carney at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.

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See “near orbit: in state, on paper” at Melanie Carr Gallery Through April 28

This work by Jeff Ostergren titled, Molecular Violence, 2019, features Oxycontin, Luvox, Claritin, Sudafed, and acrylic on coated paper, (20 x 24 inches.)

ESSEX — The Melanie Carr Gallery presents “near orbit: in state, on paper,” an exhibition curated by Connecticut artist and curator Eric Litke. It showcases recent works in a dynamic range of content and material by nine artists who live and work primarily in Connecticut, with the addition of one historic work by the late Durham artist William Kent (1919-2012).

This exhibition will be on view through April 28.

Artists included in this exhibition are as follows: William DeLottie, Jacquelyn Gleisner, William Kent, Glenn LaVertu, David Livingston, Jeff Ostergren, Jason Silva, Jessica Smolinski, Joseph Smolinski, and Peter Waite.

The Melanie Carr Gallery is located at 1 North Main St., Essex, CT 06426.

For further information, call 860.830.6949 or email melaniecarrgallery@gmail.com

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Legislators Host Informational Forum in Old Lyme on Tolls Tonight

Photo by Roman Logov on Unsplash

AREAWIDE — State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd), whose District includes Old Saybrook, and Mike France (R-42nd) along with State Senator Paul Formica (R- 20th) invite the public to attend an informational forum on tolls Tuesday, April 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Lyme-Old Lyme High School, 69 Lyme St.  The forum will be held in conjunction with State Senator Henri Martin (R-31), State Representative Laura Devlin (R-134), and House and Senate Ranking Members of the legislative Transportation Committee,

Investing in and improving Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure is a priority among all lawmakers.

With the governor’s recent budget address including more than 50 tolls expected on all major highways across the state, this event will allow area residents to share their concerns, get their questions answered, and discuss potential alternatives.

For additional information or questions, contact Representatives Carney and France at (800) 842-1423, and Senator Formica at (800) 842-1421.

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Letter From Paris: And So It Goes On … Brexit, That Is

Nicole Prévost Logan

“Order, Order!” barked John Bercow, Speaker of the House of Commons before announcing the results of the third-time-around vote on Theresa May’s Brexit “deal” .  “The ayes to the right 286, the noes to the left 344,  the left have it.”

It was that fateful day, March 29 – chosen by the Prime Minister as the deadline to decide on the “divorce” of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU).  The masterful and funny Speaker was able to control his troops and even to provoke laughter, telling one Member of Parliament (MP), “Get a grip, man, do yoga, it will be beneficial to you.”

In retrospect, not much progress had been made to resolve the Brexit issue on the British side since the June 23, 2016 referendum. It seemed that the government was taking its time and fantasizing about the legal elbow room it actually had to make decisions. (See my previous articles published on 3/5/2016; 4/6/2017 and 12/29/18)

Action in the House of Commons started really in earnest on Nov. 15, 2018 when Theresa May’s original deal was voted down. A second vote on the same motion, and a third with almost identical text were also rejected by the MPs. By drawing red lines, the tenacious but inflexible Prime Minister made it hard for herself to negotiate.

During the winter months, the parliament at Westminster offered the world a spectacle of one “decisive week” after another with votes ending in an inability to reach a majority. By March 14, Theresa May had lost her voice and the headlines in the press read “Game over.”

On the eve of the March 29 deadline, the situation turned surrealistic with two superimposed pictures (to use the words of Le Monde special envoy to London) of a vote on May’s deal and eight others on alternative proposals the MPs had organized on their own.  In a dramatic gesture, Theresa May used her last joker – stepping down from office – in case her deal was supported.   

The Prime Minister described the situation as “the end of a process” with the MPs having said no to everything : to the deal, to the absence of a deal, to Brexit, to Article 50 itself, to the eight separate proposals. In the face of this total collapse of a possible way out of this impasse, Donald Tusk, European Council President announced an extraordinary summit in Brussels on April 10.

A surprising amount of information and live coverage is now appearing on the French media,  shedding a new light on Brexit.

One report showed to what extent the public opinion was in fact manipulated.  More than 80 percent of the British press was hostile to Europe and contained “fake news” items.  The “Brexiteers” promised that the Commonwealth would save the UK. The famous red bus of Boris Johnson traveled throughout the country, displaying the number of 350 million pounds sterling ($455 million) in giant letters . That is the amount “BoJo” (Boris Johnson’s nickname) claimed that the UK is sending the EU every week instead of using it to fund the National Health Service (NHS). 

A Canada-based web site called AggregateiQ, created by Dominic Cummings, utilized private data collected from social networks and used it to “microtarget” individuals with “dark ads.” The “Vote Leave” site used a strategy comparable to that used by Cambridge Analytica, a company heavily implicated in the 2016 US election manipulation.

Other reports helped better understand why re-establishing a border between the two Irelands was a visceral impossibility. The Good Friday agreement in 1998 brought peace back but the catholic and protestant communities in Belfast, are still separated.

In this fragile context, the Irish people fear that a 300-mile external border with the EU would jeopardize the hard-won peace agreement. Trying to solve the problem of a border is an attempt at squaring a circle. The only solution might be a border at the bottom of the Irish Sea.  The backstop which allows the border to remain open until a final treaty is signed, is only a temporary solution.

It was not until the 11th hour – or less than one week before the March 29 deadline – that a significant turn occurred in London.  Prime Minister May entered into talks with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party, in spite of their sharp disagreements.  It was such a breakthrough that the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond declared on April 5, “the threat of the UK crashing out of the Union is heavily diminished.”  The Conservative party began to lean toward a “soft Brexit” and the possibility of the UK remaining in the Custom Union.

During all these months, the Europeans showed a consensual unity.  Their only caveat being that another delay would have to be justified by a clear plan such as general elections or a second referendum.  Their patience though began to wear out by early April as some divergences of opinion emerged. 

The priority for Angela Merkel is to avoid a no deal Brexit and she will bend over backwards to make that happen.   Although sharing many views with the UK in economy or trade, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, confirmed his alignment with the collective position. 

The “flextension” of one year suggested by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, might not appeal to everybody. President Macron and EU Commissioner Juncker sound tougher on more delays. However, Macron reaffirmed on April 1, that he will stand by the decision made by Brussels and will not use his veto.   

The repeated postponements requested by Prime Minister May (April 12, May 23, June 30) forced the MPs to cancel their Easter recess. Much more serious, is the imbroglio caused by the colliding of the Brexit discussions with the European elections scheduled to take place May 26.

This long saga turned rather nasty when Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, ultra Brexiteer, tweeted on April 5, “Let us stay [in Europe] and this way we will be able to damage the Union from the inside and oppose our veto on any Brussels decision”.

And so, the suspense goes on.  During these final hours, the two Houses of Parliament are scrambling to find a solution and seem to agree that a no-deal Brexit is unacceptable.  The Europeans do not want to push the UK out of the Union.

Chances are that the outcome will be Britain remaining in the Custom union, an à la carte solution, which was almost obvious from the beginning.  The British should take heart.  It only took 22 years for Norway to establish relations with the EU through the European Economic Area (EEA), and 29 years for Canada to negotiate with Europe through the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA)!

Since all the thorny issues – the City, fishing , citizens’ rights, Gibraltar, etc – are included in the 27 pages of the non legally-binding Political Declarations, a  second part of Article 50 (in other words, swept under the rug ) will have to be negotiated later . Brexit will continue to haunt both the divided British opinion and also Europe .

Some may think it is the UK’s vocation is to be independent from Europe and turned toward the rest of the world.  It certainly seems British people consider EU membership a straight-jacket. Interestingly, these are the same reasons General Charles de Gaulle gave persistently more than 50 years ago as to why he was against the original entry of Britain into the European Economic Community (EEC).

Editor’s Note: This is the opinion of Nicole Prévost Logan.

Nicole Prévost Logan

About the author: Nicole Prévost Logan divides her time between Essex and Paris, spending summers in the former and winters in the latter. She writes a regular column for us from her Paris home where her topics will include politics, economy, social unrest — mostly in France — but also in other European countries. She also covers a variety of art exhibits and the performing arts in Europe. Logan is the author of ‘Forever on the Road: A Franco-American Family’s Thirty Years in the Foreign Service,’ an autobiography of her life as the wife of an overseas diplomat, who lived in 10 foreign countries on three continents. Her experiences during her foreign service life included being in Lebanon when civil war erupted, excavating a medieval city in Moscow and spending a week under house arrest in Guinea.

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Chester Garden Club Presents Talk on Hydrangeas Tonight; All Welcome

Photo by Tomoko Uji on Unsplash.

CHESTER — On Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m., the Chester Garden Club will be hosting a presentation by Liba Judd of Broken Arrow Nursery on “Lacecaps, Mopheads and Sterile Florets: Great Hydrangeas for Adventurous Gardeners” at the United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester. 

Members of the Chester Garden Club and the public are invited to attend.  The cost for guests will be $5.

For additional information, contact Chester Garden Club Co-President Brenda Johnson at (860) 526-2998.

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Last Chance to See ‘Burt & Me’ This Afternoon at Ivoryton Playhouse

Josh Powell, Andy Christopher and Nathan Richardson appear in ‘Burt & Me’ at the Ivoryton Playhouse.

IVORYTON – The Ivoryton Playhouse opens its 2019 season tonight with a dazzling parade of hits by the songwriting team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David in the musical comedy Burt & Me by Larry McKenna.

This coming-of-age story is narrated by Joe, who tells the story of his obsession with the music of Burt Bacharach alongside his high school romance with Lacey. The old story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again, develops a new life in this nostalgic paean to the music and culture of America in the 70s.

When Burt Bacharach and Hal David met in the New York City offices of Famous Music in 1957, they had no idea that their collaboration would have such an impact on the world of pop music. In their years of writing together, they produced almost 150 songs. Sometimes the words came first, sometimes the music, sometimes both at once.

One Iyric (“Alfie”) took three days; another (“What The World Needs Now Is Love”), three years. This nostalgic juke box musical contains many of their greatest hits including, “What the World Needs Now,” “Walk On By,” “I Say A Little Prayer” and “This Guy’s in Love with You”.

Andy Christopher and Lauren Gire sing a duet in ‘Burt & Me’

The cast includes Playhouse favorites Adrianne Hick* (South Pacific), Lauren Gire* (My Way: the Frank Sinatra Story )  Neal Mayer*, (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Oliver!) and Josh Powell* (My Way: the Frank Sinatra Story and Love Quest).

Making their Playhouse debut are Andy Christopher* as our protagonist, Joe, Katie Luke and Nathan Richardson. The show is directed and choreographed by Brian Feehan, musical directed by Michael Morris, set design by Emily Nichols, lighting and sound design by Tate Burmeister and costumes by Lisa Bebey.

This may well be an evening of pure nostalgia but it also serves to remind us of Bacharach’s genius for melody, the complexity of his arrangements and David’s keen sense of human motivation. These are the songs that form the soundtrack of our youth and even their sad songs make you feel good.

Burt & Me runs through April 7. Performance times are Wednesday and Sunday matinees at 2pm. Evening performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm. There will be one Thursday matinee on March 21.

Tickets are $55 adult / $50 senior / $25 student / $20 children 12 and are available by calling the Playhouse box office at 860-767-7318 or by visiting our website at www.ivorytonplayhouse.org  (Group rates and subscriptions are available by calling the box office for information.) The Playhouse is located at 103 Main Street in Ivoryton.

*denotes member of Actors Equity

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Essex Winter Series’ Presents ‘Chanticleer’ This Afternoon in Old Saybrook

The final concert in this season’s Essex Winter Series will feature ‘Chaticleer.’

Essex Winter Series’ presents Chanticleer, the Grammy Award-Winning ensemble dubbed an orchestra of voices, on Sunday, April 7, at 3 p.m. at Old Saybrook High School, 1111 Boston Post Road, Old Saybrook.

They are celebrating the ensemble’s 40th anniversary with the program, Then and There Here and Now, which contains music by some of Chanticleer’s favorite composers. From Palestrina and Victoria to Mason Bates and Steven Stucky, with lustrous examples of the South American baroque, as well as audience favorite arrangements by Jennings, Shaw and others. This program reflects the expansive aesthetic and seamless virtuosity in ensemble singing which have been Chanticleer’s hallmark for four decades.

Essex Winter Series is honored to be part of Chanticleer’s anniversary year and concludes its season with this fabulous program.

Seating is general admission and tickets may be purchased by calling 860-272-4572 or visiting www.essexwinterseries.com.

The 2019 season is generously sponsored by The Clark Group, Essex Meadows, Essex Savings Bank, Jeffrey N. Mehler CFP LLC, Masonicare at Chester Village, Tower Laboratories, Guilford Savings Bank, and BrandTech Scientific.
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Spring is in the Air and on the Street for ‘First Friday’ in Chester, Tonight

Photo courtesy of The Perfect Pear,

CHESTER — Spring is in the air, and Chester is eager to shed the winter doldrums to celebrate First Friday this evening, April 5. Festivities include gallery openings, new shops and original offerings all around town.

Chester Gallery & Framing welcomes Spring with a new collection of works by select Connecticut artists, including four drawings of Chester by Chuck Baird (1947-2012), who was also a renowned storyteller and actor in the National Theater for the Deaf.

‘Arrowhead’ plays tonight during ‘First Friday’ at the Spring Street Studio and Gallery.

At Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio and Gallery, Nilsson’s exhibit features new gouache and oil works and live music by Arrowhead.

Chester’s newest merchant, Erica Tannen and The E List Shop at 1 North Main Street, features an exhibit of recent work by Brian Keith Stephens along with the newly launched women’s clothing store. The E List’s neighbor, Caryn Paradis Interior Design, opens its new space at 3 North Main Street with a meet-and-greet with Jeremy Hughes, a Chester-based artist, who uses natural materials to create innovative and inspiring pieces for the home or office.

The C & G building in Chester is home to the new E-List Shop, which will be open tonight to celebrate First Friday in Chester.

Blackkat Leather is hosting local photographer Derek Hayn for a special showing of his works as an architectural photographer. His photos include dramatic aerial views of New York and Boston skylines, as well as landscapes of New England and abroad. 

At Lark, Pastry Chef Joyce Brewster of Hillanddale and the Golden Lamb Buttery in Brooklyn, Conn., will be on hand to talk, sample and sell her much-loved pie handiwork.

Shops at the Mill House is rolling out new Spring inventory from its wide selection of antiques dealers.

Along with a new line of Emile Henry made-in-France bread-baking gear, The Perfect Pear is introducing handmade ceramic Guinea fowl of Provence from Les Céramiques de Lussan. These whimsical birds are hand-crafted from Provençal clay and painstakingly painted in a wide range of colors.

On the restaurant front, Grano Arso is celebrating the First Friday in April with “Par for the Course,” a new cocktail by bartender Zack Joyce made with Prairie Vodka, English Breakfast tea, lemon and mint.

In addition to on-street parking in Chester, there is free parking available in the town’s public lots on Main Street by the cemetery, on Water Street and on Maple Street.

For more information about First Friday, visit Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT or call (860) 322-4047.

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Shoreline Arts Alliance Now Accepting Applications for ‘Scholarships in the Arts: Top Talent’

Kayla Bryan, who was last year’s Instrumental Music Scholarship winner, is shown above performing in the 2018 Top Talent Showcase. Photo © Judith L. Barbosa.

AREAWIDE — Shoreline Arts Alliance announces the opening of applications for the 39th annual Scholarships in the Arts: Top Talent. This program is open to juniors and seniors residing within Shoreline Arts Alliance’s 24 town region and who want to pursue an education in the arts. Applicants can apply in seven different categories of study. The winner in each category will receive a $1,000 scholarship for continuing education and/or supplies as well as a mentorship from a professional artist in the winners chosen field. Applications are now available on the website and will be open until April 24, which will be followed by in-person auditions, interviews, and portfolio reviews on May 3 and 4.

Applications for the scholarships can be found on the Shoreline Arts Alliance website. Applications can be submitted online or through a mail-in form. An in-person audition, interview, and/or portfolio review is required for each application and will take place at the ACES Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT on May 3 and 4, 2019. These in person auditions/interviews/portfolio reviews give the students the opportunity to learn about presenting themselves and their art before a jury of professionals.

Students who reside in the 24-town-region (region includes all of Middlesex County, Madison, Guilford, North Branford, Branford, East Haven, Lyme, East Lyme, Old Lyme, and Salem) and are interested in the arts are encouraged to apply. The categories are, Theatre, Vocal Music, Instrumental Music, Creative Writing, Dance, Visual Art, and, our newest category, the Jeffrey Dobbs Scholarship for Excellence in Painting.

These seven categories are judged by professional, working artists in each field of study. These professionals pay special attention to detail, to the students commitment to the art form of their choosing, and give valuable feedback to each student. Judges choose a winner in each category and they may also choose a special recognition in any given category. Winners and special recognition winners will be asked to participate in a showcase on May 14 at Evergreen Woods.

The Scholarship in the Arts program is meant to educate, encourage, enrich, and engage the students through audition practice, interview practice, and valuable feedback from professional artists. Students who are serious about their careers in the arts will be given important lessons on interviewing, preparing a portfolio for review, and auditioning. This preparation, in a safe and judgement free environment, will allow the students to feel comfortable in future interviewing/auditioning/portfolio review processes.

Visit www.shorelinearts.org/top-talent to learn more about this program, find submission information, and to download the application or apply online. A $25 non-refundable fee is required for each application. Contact Shoreline Arts Alliance for further information by emailing office@shorelinearts.org or calling 203.453.3890.

Editor’s Note: Shoreline Arts Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)3 based in Guilford, CT. Shoreline Arts Alliance is the state appointed arts council for a 24 town region including all of Middlesex County, East Haven, Guilford, Madison, Branford, North Branford, Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, and East Lyme. Shoreline Arts Alliance’s mission is to Transform Lives through the Arts and we do so by educating students, encouraging artists, engaging the community, and enriching the cultural landscape of the Shoreline and beyond. Shoreline Arts Alliance offers free programs and services across the State of Connecticut. To learn more about these programs, visit www.shorelinearts.org or contact office@shorelinearts.org or 203.453.3890

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Sen. Needleman, Rep. Carney and Mclachlan Host Community Conversation in Westbrook

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

AREAWIDE – State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) and State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-) will hold a Community Conversation event with the public this evening,  Wednesday, April 3. The event is scheduled to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook Town Hall’s Multimedia Room, located at 866 Boston Post Rd. in Westbrook.

Sen. Needleman’s 33rd District includes Lyme, and State Rep. Carney’s 23rd District includes Lyme and Old Lyme.

Sen. Needleman and Reps. MacLachlan and Carney will discuss the state budget with members of the public, among a number of other important legislative issues.

“Getting out into the community is so important, as I can hear from the public first-hand about what issues impact them the most,” said Sen. Needleman. “There are a number of significant topics this legislative session, including bills dealing with school regionalization, which deserve our attention. I’m looking forward to sitting with Representatives MacLachlan and Carney to hear directly from Westbrook.”

“The 2019 legislative session is well underway and many people have been asking about topics ranging from the budget, taxes, tolls and school regionalization,” said Rep. Carney. “I am grateful that residents continue to take advantage of these types of events, am looking forward to discussing these and many other issues with folks in Westbrook on April 3 alongside Senator Needleman and Representative MacLachlan. I encourage all residents to attend this event or to reach out to my office with any legislative concerns.”

“I look forward to hearing from residents about some of the hot button issues including tolls, the forced regionalization of schools and the several tax increase proposals,” said Rep. MacLachlan. “It’s important for residents to have the opportunity to share their thoughts about legislation that will have a significant impact on their daily lives.”

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Sen. Needleman Welcomes State Bonding for Old Saybrook Police Camera Reimbursements

OLD SAYBROOK — State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) announced yesterday that the State Bond Commission is expected to approve a significant reimbursement to the Old Saybrook Police Department for its purchase and implementation of police body cameras and video storage devices today.

The State Bond Commission will issue a total of $2.63 million to seven municipalities’ police departments in return for their investments in body cameras and video storage devices. Of that bonding, $56,639 in reimbursements is allocated for the Old Saybrook Police Department.

“Our police departments are making steps toward transparency, allowing for a better relationship with the public, and it’s great to see Old Saybrook’s first responders will receive a reimbursement on their investment,” said Sen. Needleman.

“The State’s fiscal assistance with offsetting some of Old Saybrook’s body and cruiser camera costs is welcomed,” said Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, “especially during a time when communities both large and small seek to have their Law Enforcement Agencies utilize technology to both enhance their operations, add efficiencies, and build trust with the citizens they are sworn to protect through transparency and accountability.”

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